First time smoking

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by xraymtb, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. xraymtb

    xraymtb Newbie

    Was recently bitten by the smoking bug and decided to build a Mini WSM from my Smokey Joe after reading lots of (US) forum posts on it.

    Finding a pot to use for the build was tough but eventually picked up a 32l wort boiler from a brewshop.

    The fit wasn't quite perfect but good enough so a quick drill gave me three supports for the grate.

    Then the hardest part. I decided to drill holes in the base rather than cutting it out for now. Turns out drilling stainless steel is a lot harder than aluminium! About and hour and a half later I had a ring of twelve holes finished.

    You'll notice the three protruding acorn nuts - those provide a standoff inside for my drip tray and also mean when I set the pot down its not on the base and doesn't pick up dirt etc.

    Inside view now it's done.

    Time to fire her up then. Started a few pieces of lump and added them to a pile of unlit lump in the base of the Smokey Joe with a couple of chunks of Oak I have lying around. In hindsight the lump is really broken up and less than ideal.

    Pot on, lid on, grate probe in place and away she goes.

    Came up easily to 225f and I closed the bottom vents as it came up so as to not overshoot. Gave it half an hour to get settled and popped on a couple of chicken legs I had brined overnight and two burgers (because they were in the fridge and needed eaten!)

    Temp was stable between 215 and 230 for around another two hours. Noticed it starting to fall and discovered it was raining! Removed the burgers as they were done and opened the vents a bit more to eke out another hour or so.

    Chicken was up to 167f as the temp inside started to tail off. Took the chicken off when the Q dropped to 210 and lifted the pot off for a look.

    Still unlit coals left and that black lump in the middle is my oak. Not sure why it dropped but happy for a first outing.

    Burgers were good. Chicken was very juicy and tender but probably not my favourite meat to smoke. Will have to try Pork or Ribs next time.

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Hello.  Yes!  Stainless is a B**** to work with.  I think you may need about 4 extra holes in the center?  BUT!  why is there 4 extra un-dampered vent hole in your smoker?  Those holes are also in the wrong place to promote good coal burning or temp control.  Please tell me you did not drill through the porcelain coating on your Weber.  I don't own a Smokey Joe but from the pictures I can see; these 4 holes do not exist.  I could be wrong; have been before.  Probably will be again.  Keep Smokin!

  3. xraymtb

    xraymtb Newbie

    I presume you mean the four vents in the Smokey Joe itself? Those are standard for this model and have dampers (I just had them wide open at the outset so it looks like they don't from the inside).

    Reading from those who have built one of these smokers before the vents in the sides turned out to be better than vents in the base, largely due to ash build up but also as the temperatures being used don't necessarily require masses of airflow from under the coals.

    As I said this is all new to me and I could be wrong but it seemed to be very stable when I ran it. I think the proper WSM also offer has vents partway up the bowl?
  4. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Nice looking smoker you built there. I see a lot of guys add a ball valve for fine temperature control as well. Looks good.
  5. Hello.  I stand corrected.  In the photos I saw on the net I did not see those vents.  Probably just the photos.

    As to your question I would say you are right on the money.  Once the ash build up stops the air flow under the coals the party is over.  So what do you do about this?  [​IMG]   I have never used or built one of these so I have contacted an American member who has several of these and asked him to have a look and offer advice.  FWISMOKER should offer some advice soon.  It may be just the nature of the beast.  Hope this helps.  Keep Smokin!

  6. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Is that the bottom of the pot drilled with holes?    If so I'd ditch that and cut the bottom out with the exception of maybe a 2" perimeter.   I have both a 14.5 version (aluminum) and the larger 18.5" w/ a Stainless pot.   It's definitely not easy to cut SS.   Proper intake and exhaust is the key but regardless you'll want the bottom of the pot gone.

    For the Smokey Joe Silver (bottom intake) look at dirtsaylor's build.   A charcoal basket which you can make with expanded steel around the charcoal grate and side air Intakes will largely solve your temp problem.  If you don't do side air then you'll have to put some type of bowl upside down over the bottom intake and drill holes in the side so that ash build up doesn't choke off your airflow. Hope that helps!
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  7. Thank you Keith.  Like the idea of the bowl so that the airflow can't get choked.  Keep Smokin!

  8. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I built on of these recently, and went with the same idea as you, drilling holes in the bottom instead of cutting it out.

    I used The seal used on Wood Burning Stove, around the bottom part of the BBQ and Lid to give a good seal.

    Regarding the ash build up, I am using a pit controller with fan to control the temperature. The air supply pipe comes up in the middle of the charcoal basket. I have not had a problem with ash covering the hole, but have in stalled a deflector plate, for two reasons. A to stop ash been blown upwards on to the food, and B, to enable indirect cooking. Terracotta planter saucer.

    Have to say this is one of the most economical smokers I have, and the temperature is more stable than any other.

    Will be taking this along to the SMF Weekend.
  9. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow Steve. That looks like it would make a great cup of tea [​IMG]  
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  10. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wade, you can have a go at making a cup of tea in a couple of weeks!
  11. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What does it take? A whole box of PG Tips for a full brew?

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